Case: Lichtenwalter v. DeWine

20-00401 | Ohio state trial court

Filed Date: March 13, 2020

Closed Date: April 16, 2020

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

COVID-19 Summary: This is a combined mandamus and habeas petition filed in March where an inmate requested release due to his heightened risk of contracting COVID-19, due to his HIV-positive status. Relief was denied on April 16. On March 19, 2020, the plaintiff, an inmate at Belmont Correctional Institute, filed this petition for writ of mandamus or, in the alternative, habeas corpus. The petition was filed against Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, the Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitatio…

COVID-19 Summary: This is a combined mandamus and habeas petition filed in March where an inmate requested release due to his heightened risk of contracting COVID-19, due to his HIV-positive status. Relief was denied on April 16.


On March 19, 2020, the plaintiff, an inmate at Belmont Correctional Institute, filed this petition for writ of mandamus or, in the alternative, habeas corpus. The petition was filed against Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, the Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, and the Warden of Belmont Correctional Institution. He argued that the prison was not engaging in proper social distancing amidst the outbreak of COVID-19 and that the common areas were overcrowded, an environment that would make it particularly easy for the virus to spread. To make matters worse, the plaintiff claimed, he was HIV-positive. He claimed that this brought his chance of death to somewhere between twenty and fifty percent. According to the plaintiff, failure to allow for proper social distancing constituted a violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. He sought release in order to avoid contact with the virus.

Early in April, the ACLU of Ohio submitted a motion asking the court to file an amicus brief on behalf of the petitioner.

On April 16, nearly a month later, the Ohio Supreme Court issued a one-paragraph order that denied the petitioner habeas corpus for failure to state a claim, but also allowed the ACLU of Ohio to file an amicus brief. Justice Michael Donnelly wrote a concurring opinion, arguing that habeas was not appropriate because petitioner sought only to get away from the environment of prison, not release from state custody. He also stated that the court did not have the power to force the executive to release the petitioner via a writ of mandamus.

Summary Authors

Jack Hibbard (7/16/2020)


Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Becker, Susan Jane (Ohio)

Bonham, Elizabeth (Ohio)

Levenson, Freda J. (Ohio)

Mead, Joseph W. (Ohio)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Becker, Susan Jane (Ohio)

Bonham, Elizabeth (Ohio)

Levenson, Freda J. (Ohio)

Mead, Joseph W. (Ohio)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket

Ohio state supreme court

April 15, 2020 Docket

[Request for] Writ of Mandamus

Lichenwalter v. The Governor of Ohio

Ohio state supreme court

March 11, 2020 Complaint

Supreme Court Order

Ohio state supreme court

April 16, 2020 Order/Opinion

Motion for Leave to File Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of Relator Derek Lichtenwalter

Relator v. DeWine

Ohio state supreme court

May 6, 2020 Pleading / Motion / Brief

Resources

Title Description External URL

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: Ohio

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Special Collection(s):

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Key Dates

Filing Date: March 13, 2020

Closing Date: April 16, 2020

Case Ongoing: No reason to think so

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Inmate at Belmont Correctional Institution in Ohio

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

ACLU Affiliates (any)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Governor Mike DeWine, State

Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, State

Warden of Belmont Correctional Institution, State

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Special Case Type(s):

Appellate Court is initial court

Habeas

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Issues

General:

Conditions of confinement

Sanitation / living conditions

Crowding:

Crowding / caseload

COVID-19:

Mitigation Denied

Mitigation Requested

Release Denied

Release Requested

Type of Facility:

Government-run